Tuesday, July 31, 2012

2 Off-the-Beaten Path Places to Visit in Europe

Traveling to Europe's a great experience, no matter where you go. But if you've already been and are looking for something different or have never been and are looking for a truly unique European experience, consider these two off-the-beaten path destinations.

Get swept away by beautiful Bornholm
Escape the buzz of Copenhagen, especially during high season, and get to Bornholm, an island in the Baltic Sea. It's been called the "Pearl of the Baltic," and features beaches that feel more like the Mediterranean than Denmark. It's known for the arts, round churches, and delicious smoked herring (as opposed to picked herring), this beautiful island is less populated than the rest of Denmark. It's forests and natural beauty makes for a great vacation spot. And it's proximity to Sweden, Poland and Germany give it an international feel, which is highlighted by the fact that most Americans have yet to discover it.

You'l find lots of natural beauty in Jura.
Tucked in a rugged, undeveloped region in the northwest of Switzerland, Jura and the 3 Lakes is known for a variety of landscapes and an intact natural environment. Jura gives you plenty of space in the valleys, stunning vistas of the mountains, peaceful meadows filled with flowers, and plenty of outdoor activities. You'll also find diverse and picturesque towns and villages, whether it's Neuchatel and its vineyards or Biel and its watchmaking history. There are plenty of historic and architectural treasures to see and explore in Jura.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Staying Fit's Easy at a Vacation Rental: 3 Common-Sense Tips

Eat out and blow your diet? Why would you,
when you could cook (or just eat a bowl
oatmeal) in a kitchen like this!

Traveling can wreak havoc on your diet, whether you're trying to lose weight or not. Eating meals out, taking the elevator down multiple floors to get to a workout room with crowded machines, and just being off your routine can cause serious setbacks in the battle of the bulge. Just going outside can be daunting since most hotels and motels are located high-traffic areas not conducive to walking or running. Vacation rentals give you a better chance at staying fit on vacation. Here are three common sense tips to keep in mind.

Calories in matter more than calories you burn. What you eat matters more to your overall fitness more than the calories you burn working out. While getting a daily dose of exercise is critical, you may already know that if you blow it with a cheeseburger and malt at lunch in Disneyworld, then all that sweat was for naught. Vacation rentals allow you to stay in complete control of the food you eat because they have kitchens. Make a shopping list before you leave home and stick to it when you stock your vacation rental pantry.

Find hidden treasures in your neighborhood while you get some exercise. Your vacation rental may or may not come with exercise equipment, just as many hotels or motels may or may not have work out rooms. If need be, you can always get a temporary gym membership at a nearby health club. But a better solution is to get out and walk or run. In a vacation rental, that will be relatively easy as most are located in neighborhoods or foot-traffic friendly resort areas. Not only will you get lots of fresh air and sunshine, you truly start to feel like a part of the community your vacationing in. That's a wonderful feeling, and provides many small, aha moments throughout the day that you'll remember forever. Since you'll be out of a car and on your two feet, you'll probably discover hidden sights and attractions that only the locals know about.

Bring your workout DVDs. All vacation rentals come with DVD players, so bring your favorite workouts along with you. If you don't have any, get a couple before your trip. And since most vacation rentals are going to have lots of space to spread out, the odds of you disturbing your travel buddies with an early morning workout in front of the TV are slim to none. Plus, popping in a DVD in your vacation rental makes it easy to fit your workout routine into your busy vacation schedule.

One last tip: a vacation rental will quickly feel like home to you. So whatever you do at home should easily work at your vacation rental.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Just for Laughs, Just for Fun -- Get to Montreal for a Great Weekend Trip

Vacation rentals are going fast for
the Osheago Music and Arts Festival.
Montreal's a timeless city filled with history, culture, fine dining, and an abundance of outdoor activities. And this weekend, it's home to one of the biggest and best comedy festivals in the world.

Just for Laughs runs from today (July 25) through Sunday July 29, with one final event scheduled for Tuesday, July 31. Headliners and hosts included Aziz Ansari of Parks and Recreation fame, Lewis Black, Joel Mchale, Bob Saget and more.

If you can't make it this weekend, then try any other time throughout the year. Montreal is a year-round city, with lots going on no matter when you visit. If fashion and design or music and arts are more your style, then try visiting Montreal the first weekend in August. Both the Montreal Fashion & Design Festival and the Osheago Music and Arts Festival are happening then.

Book your vacation rental now. Perfect Places is excited to announce 15 new Montreal vacation rentals from Prestantia Management in the heart of this timeless city. Deborah Mermelstein of Presentia says the properties are close to all the fun and excitement has to offer.

Many fun, exciting activities, right
outside your door.
"Open your door and you're on Lachine Canal. Great restaurants are within walking distance, as are many other shopping and entertainment options." She said she's been getting  a lot of inquiries about vacation rentals during the Osheago Music and Arts Festival, so act quickly.

If you can't make it to Montreal in the next few weeks, then try visiting in January for Igloofest and enjoy four electrifying nights of emerging electronic music and an enchanting, other-worldly igloo village.

Plenty to do and see no matter when you visit. While in Montreal, be sure to visit the Atwater market for a great selection of fresh produce, meats, fish, plenty of organic choices and every kind of gourmet treat you could want. You'll find homemade ice cream, wine tasting, local and international cuisine, cooking demonstrations and more. Lachine Canal activities include kayaking, canoeing, electric boats and on-shore fun such as bike rentals, life-size chess games, roller blading and more.

As a truly international city, Montreal features some of the best dining you'll find anywhere. Try Joe Beef, the Liverpool House, Limon, Burgundy Lion Pub, Sans Menu, Bitoque and more. There are also many areas of the city that are worth exploring for dining, nightlife, shopping or just people watching. Try Plateau Montreal, St. Laurent Street, St. Denis Street and Downtown Montreal, including Crescent Street.

Montreal is also the home of the Cirque de Soleil, so you'll find plenty of opportunities to see this amazing, one-of-a-kind show.

And be sure to explore Mont Royal, a mountain in the center of the city from which Montreal takes its name. You'll find plenty of outdoor activities throughout the year.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Make Them Feel More than Special: 3 Tips for More Vacation Rental Bookings

Give them more than a great view ...
With all the discussion about whether or not Facebook or Pinterest or Twitter or the next social media website is driving bookings, don't lose site of the fact that relationships with your guests go beyond a Like, Tweet or Repin. Here are three tips for building and improving your relationships with your guests.

Follow up with your guests after their stay. This can be either with an email or a phone call. Find out how their stay went--what they enjoyed about your rental and the area. Ask if they had any problems and reassure them they'll be addressed on their next visit. Ask them to leave a review online. Go the extra step and email them a link where they can leave a review. If they took any photos, ask if they would mind sharing a few with you for either your site or Facebook page. People love sharing their photos, and they'll likely be flattered that you asked.

.... or a fabulous pool. Make them feel
like they're your most important guests ever. 
Market to your existing customers. It's much better to have a repeat customer than a new one. First, you already know they'll be good guests and treat your property with respect. And they'll know what a great property you have. Many people like to feel like they're going to a familiar place when they go on vacation. Part of relaxing is not worrying about whether or not the accommodations will be just right. Treat your existing customers better than your new customers. Give them the best deals with exclusive offers and discounts. In fact, if you have someone who's rented with you the last few years, find a way to give him or her some kind of exclusive perk. It doesn't have to be expensive--just something that will make them feel special and like they have a unique relationship with you.

Reach out to new guests. Make yourself as available as possible for questions from guests. Sometimes, it's the smallest reassurance that can tip the booking in your favor. If you can accommodate special requests, do so. But if not, then describe what you can do for them, or how they might otherwise obtain what they need and still stay at your property. When you speak with a potential guest on the phone, or have an in-depth email exchange, it gives you the chance to book your rental using your personal knowledge of the property and the area.

The bottom line: nurture the relationships you start with guests or potential guests, and you'll book more weeks with people you know and trust.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

3 Tips for Getting More Vacation Rental Bookings

Take great exterior photos ...

The vacation rentals business is getting more and more competitive, no matter what area you’re located. Keeping your properties booked as many weeks as possible is the cornerstone of your success. Here are 3 tips to help you out.

Photos matter more than anything else – even price. That’s right – even price. Because if your property doesn’t look better than a more expensive property, even if it’s just as good, you’ll lose the booking.

... and great interior photos (note pool from
photo above in background).
Be your own worst critic when it comes to your photos, even if you think they’re fine now. Use the best photos you can take on your listing. If there's any doubt about your ability to take a fantastic photo, hire a professional, or find a friend with professional level skills. If you can't afford a professional to take all your photos, then hire them to take key photos of your best, most marketable areas of your property. Do not use your phone to take the photo. The shake and blur factor is too great with the shutter lag on most phone cameras. Borrow, rent or buy a real camera. Be your own worst critic. Then, every few years, update your photos. In fact, you may want to update photos on a yearly basis if you remodel or even redecorate. Guests expect to stay in the place they saw online. Check out more vacation rental photo tips in an earlier blog post.

Easy to read descriptions matter a close second. While photos are king, clearly written, highly descriptive property descriptions are the crown prince. A cardinal sin for any vacation rental property: leaving the description area blank, or with bare bones details. If you're not a skilled writer, or don't want to take the time, pay someone to do it for you. Or, simply use short, concise bullet points. You don't need paragraphs of copy (though that is preferred for organic search, which we'll address in a future post). You need to convey your property's best features and why those features set your property apart.

Offers and calls to action are the deal makers or deal breakers. The first thing that people want when renting a vacation rental is a beautiful place to stay with great amenities and in a great location. Your photos and property description will take care of that. The next thing they want is a deal. If two properties are equal, renters will almost always take the one that offers a better deal, and that doesn't always mean a lower price. Perhaps you can offer concierge service, or access to a professional chef. You might be able to work out deals with local attractions for discounts available only through your property. Think creatively. Then, once you have a great offer for your properties, include a call to action in your property description. It can be as simple as "Book Now," or more involved, such as "Call Now to Get Your FREE Coupon Book." Whatever the offer is, ask your prospective guest to book your property in a clear and direct way.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Skiing, Hiking, Relaxing -- Whistler's a Great 4 Season Destination

Relax in the pool after summertime activities.

Home to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, is a year-round destination perfect for any outdoor recreation vacation. We're excited to announce that Blackcomb Peaks Accommodations has added 42 new vacation rentals in this one of North America's most beautiful places.

Warm weather activities abound, including fishing, golf, hiking and eco tours, mountain biking, river rafting and wine tours. In the winter, you can enjoy Olympic-class skiing and snowboarding, cross country skiing and snowmobiling.

Prime ski in/ski out location.
Whistler is located in southern coastal British Columbia and enjoys mild temperatures in winter with frequent snowfall, receiving about 400 inches a year (34 feet). Ski season runs from late November until April, with temperatures ranging from 28 to 52 degrees on average. For true ski enthusiasts (including many Olympic athletes), ski season can even run into July with skiing on Horstman Glacier. Further down the mountain from the glacier, temperatures are warmer and summer activities abound. In the fall, the weather turns crisp and beautiful. September to November is a great time to enjoy Whistler's many hiking trails.

The Village of Whistler offers plenty of off-the-mountain entertainment. You'll find first-class restaurants, great shopping, nightclubs and more.

Monday, July 9, 2012

3 Beaches You'll Remember Forever

The prediction for the rest of the summer: Hot. Now, many of you have already spent a lot of time at the beach, trying to cool off. If the same old tan sand is starting to bore you, give some thought to escaping to some remarkablely different beaches.

Enjoy this Bahamas vacation rental, just a short
walk from the Pink Sands Beach.
Pink Sands Beach, Bahamas

Besides being one of the best beaches in the Bahamas, Pink Sands Beach on Harbour Island is one of the top dive sites in the world. While Harbour Island is small, you'll find restaurants, deep-sea fishing, horseback riding, shopping and more. The Pink sand beach is about 3 miles long and 50 to 100 feet wide.

Papakolea Beach, Hawaii

Located near South Point on the Big Island, this rare and unusual beach gets its coloring from the "olivine" sand. When you wiggle your toes on Papakolea Beach, you'll actually be feeling granules of the semi-precious stone peridot. The beach sits in an ancient volcanic cinder cone. Getting there's a bit tough. You can either make a 3-mile rock across rocky lava fields, or you can take a 4-wheel drive vehicle. If you drive a rental car, be sure to read your rental agreement. Papakolea Beach makes a great day trip from Big Island vacation rentals in either Kona or Hilo.

Panalu'u Beach, Hawaii

Also called Black Sand Beach, this is one of the more famous tourist attractions on the Big Island. The beach is frequented by sea turtles, which sun themselves on the black sand. They're protected, so you can't touch them or interact with them beyond taking photographs. The beach is on the Hilo side of the Big Island and is much more accessible than Papakolea Beach. While you can swim and snorkel, the Black Sand Beach is rockier, and swimming can be hazardous.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Paris Vacation Rentals--A Great Last-Minute Travel Tip for the London Olympics

If you've just decided to take in the Olympic Games in London (July 27 - August 12), good luck finding a place anywhere near London. But it's not too late to book Paris vacation rentals, or other France vacation rentals. 

The Paris to London train takes about 2 1/2 hours each way, with departures early in the morning and return trips late in the evening. So you could spend a week in Paris and take the train in for a few days to catch the excitement of the Olympic games.

Or, enjoy the French countryside along the English Channel and catch the train in Calais, which is only about an hour from London.

The summer Olympics only come around once every four years. For most Americans, the fact that they're in London makes them more accessible than in most years. So if you've just decided to take in this sporting spectacle, try Paris. You'll be able to cheer on your favorite athletes, watch exciting competition, enjoy the pageantry and excitement of the Olympic Games, and experience two of the most beautiful cities in the world.